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Plastic ban triggers confusion

ENVIRONMENT-UNFRIENDLY: People use plastic bags at Market Building in Bhubaneswar. Picture by Ashwinee Pati

Bhubaneswar: The state government declared a blanket ban on disposable plastic, plastic bags and polythene, the proscription to be effective in the city from Gandhi Jayanti on October 2 this year.

The Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh governments have already implemented the ban.

But, the ban in Bhubaneswar - announced on July 10 - has left a lot of people confused, mainly the middle-grade industries, small-scale vendors and consumers about what could be the alternative to plastic and exactly what kind of plastic would be banned since it has a wide range of uses.

The ban has already made major commercial establishments and shopping centres in the city provide linen bags or paper bags instead of the plastic ones to their consumers. But those selling their products in plastic pouches are worried.

"We have been providing plastic carry bags to our customers. But after the state government's order, we are planning to procure paper bags for the purpose. However, we have no idea what will happen to already packed products. We will call a meeting of our counterparts to discuss on it," said Pantaloons store manager Deepak Dash.

Bakery owners also remain in a fix since they largely use plastic for packing their food products. "We use plastic to pack our products since it will be destroyed if we won't do it. I have never really thought of any alternative to plastic. The ban will definitely hit my livelihood hard," said Dibakar Sahoo, a bakery owner at Surya Nagar.

Confusions also prevails among those, who are manufacturing plastic cups, plates and other such items as well as those vendors and eateries who have been using plastic. "Plastic cups are easy to use than the glass ones. I have no idea what will I use to give tea to my customers," said Prafulla, a tea stall owner near Fire Station.

Vendors, especially the vegetable and fruit sellers of the city, are getting ready to comply with the government decision. "We often ask our customers to bring bags with them to take the products, but they keep on asking for plastic bags. Now, we will have no other option," said Birendra Jena, a vegetable seller at Unit-II.

Environmentalists welcomed the move but asked for proper guidelines for the ban. "The ban is good, but the government needs to be specific about the ban and let the people know of it as what they should use and what not," said environmentalist Sailabala Padhi.

Mayor Ananta Narayan Jena said a set of awareness activities would be taken up to let people know about ban on the use of plastic. "In the first phase, awareness activities will be taken up after which the enforcement will come into effect," said Jena.

In Maharashtra, plastic bags with handle and without handle, disposable cups and plates, spoons, forks, glasses, and containers are banned for use. Plastic packaging - used to wrap and store the product - is also included in the ban. Plastic straw, non-woven polypropene bags and pouches also come under the ban's purview

In Uttar Pradesh, plastic cups, glasses and polythene bags are banned. However, the state is yet to come up with a specific list of banned items to be implemented there from July 15

In Odisha, according to the chief minister's announcement, plastic cups, glasses and polythene bags will not be allowed. Similar to Uttar Pradesh, the Odisha government will shortly come up with the list of banned items.

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